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Kickoff: Friday, 3 p.m. ET
No. 16 American Heritage (Plantation) is no stranger to playing at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, as the Patriots are looking for their third state championship in four seasons. Patrick Surtain has continued the winning tradition for Heritage in his first season as head coach after taking over for Mike Rumph, who is now an assistant coach at Miami.
American Heritage is a little different than Ponte Vedra in that its defense has been extremely dominant, allowing only 134 points all season, and 32 of those came in a win over Miami Northwestern. The Patriots have won their last three postseason games by a combined 23 points, but allowed only 28 points combined in wins over Cardinal Gibbons, defending 5A state champion Bishop Moore, and Jesuit.
The offense is steady, and Jason Brown is a smart quarterback and leader who doesn’t make mistakes and makes enough plays to win. The Patriots have played a challenging schedule and have beaten all comers to this point, and will be a heavy favorite against a Ponte Vedra team making it’s first trip to Orlando.
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Ponte Vedra has only been a high school since 2008 and had just two playoff wins prior to this year’s run to Orlando. QB Nick Tronti has almost single-handedly led Ponte Vedra in the playoffs, and they have been involved in some shootouts the past three weeks against Ribault, Rickards, and Clay. Clay coach Josh Hoekstra said after last week’s game that Tronti has “put his team on his shoulders.”
RB Hal Swan adds to the 1-2 punch with Tronti, and he will need to be very active against an extremely tough American Heritage defense. Wide receiver Marshall Few has also been a major part of this Sharks offense.
Defensively, Ponte Vedra has given up some points, but have made the stops when needed, including a late interception by Andrew O’Dare to put away Clay. Tronti may have to once again put Ponte Vedra on his shoulders against one of the top teams in the nation.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB Nick Tronti, Ponte Vedra, Sr. – Tronti had a career performance against Clay in the state semifinals, as he was responsible for 552 total yards and six touchdowns. That put the Charlotte commit over 7,000 passing yards for his career, and his 30 yard TD run with 2:36 left helped put the game away. Tronti added a 26- and 74-yard touchdown runs as he rushed for 239 yards and four scores.
QB Jason Brown, American Heritage, Sr. – Brown is heading to Harvard after this, his senior year, and he has shined for the Patriots. Brown is 21-2 as a starter the last two seasons and this year has thrown for 1,525 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for another 514 yards and four scores.
DE/LB Andrew Chatfield, American Heritage, Jr. – Chatfield leads an American Heritage defense that has allowed 134 points all season. He has 79 total tackles, including 25 for loss, and leads the Patriots with 19 sacks.
RB Hal Swan, Ponte Vedra, Sr. – Swan is only 5-8 but he joins Tronti as the major weapons for the Ponte Vedra offense. He has over 1,700 yards total offense and 21 total scores for the Sharks, including 16 TD’s on the ground. Swan averages almost 137 yards of offense a game for undefeated Ponte Vedra.
DT George Ellis, American Heritage, Sr. – Ellis added 73 total tackles, including 14 for loss, and five and a half sacks, and came up big with a fourth-down sack to end the state semifinal win over Jesuit.